House of Commons opens inquiry on probate registry

House of Common’s ‘Justice Committee’ has opened an inquiry on the probate registry. The deadline to respond with written evidence is 22nd January 2024.

The Probate Registry has been experiencing significant delays. There are wider concerns about how effectively beneficiaries, executors and the bereaved are supported through the process and protected from rogue traders. The inquiry will take evidence on capacity, resources and delays across the probate service, and the impact of digitisation and centralisation, including the effectiveness of the online probate portal.

The inquiry is interested in people’s experiences of applying for probate including how the administration of probate could be improved for people who are already coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.

HMCTS have also released a fees consultation that proposes to increase probate fees to £300 per grant application from the spring and then by inflation every two years. This consultation is open until 22nd December 2023. Details can be found here: Implementing increases to selected court and tribunal fees (

The Law Society will be responding and will reiterate Irwin Mitchell’s stated position that the government should implement a minimum service level standard for individual grant applications, whereby if the service drops below that standard on an individual grant application, then the grant application is automatically reimbursed a percentage of the fee.

One Response

  1. I have worked in our Probate Department in excess of 12 years and I can honestly say that over the past five years my contact with the Probate Registry has gone downhill over that time. It is not the staff it is the systems that are in place. Our main Probate Registry in Birmingham was closed in 2019 with that work being reallocated to Newcastle upon Tyne as part of a £1 billion reform programme. How can there be an efficient flow of work when the same number of people are dealing with twice the workload. Recovery time was not sufficient for this reallocated work and then the pandemic came. The system has never recovered and is unlikely to do so if it is kept the same. From submitting an application either digital or paper there is a 16 weeks wait – which in reality means 20 weeks.

    I dread having to make a call to the Probate Registry as the wait time for the call to be answered is also too long – my experience is that there is usually a wait time of 45 mins. In some cases I have waited over an hour for my call to be answered. The usual response is that the application has not been examined with several weeks delay from the application being logged onto the system before being allocated to a caseworker.

    It is not fair to grieving families to have this added stress. Also if there is a property to sell which in many cases there are the waiting time at the Probate Registry then affects this aspect of an estate which compounds the problem.

    The idea of increasing the cost of an application when the system is woeful is a further insult.

    Government departments i.e. Probate, HMRC, OPG & HMLR are straining because of being understaffed – this needs to be sorted before any further financial burden is put onto grieving families.

    Quite simply the £1 billion spent on the reform has not been good use of money, it has put staff under greater pressure with their workload and increased distress to grieving families. In terminology of a school report “MUST DO BETTER”

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